She was the ultimate screen goddess, captivating millions of fans with her beauty, talent and mystery.
But Greta Garbo stunned the world when she walked away from her glittering career at the peak of her fame, aged just 36.
The Swedish-born actress, who died in 1990, never returned to the silver screen after her final film, ‘The Two-Faced Woman’ (1941), bombed at the box office.
Instead, she chose to live a secluded life in New York City, shunning the limelight and the media for the next 50 years.
So what drove her to make such a radical decision? And what secrets did she hide behind her famous sunglasses?
A slave under contract
Garbo was fed up with Hollywood, where she felt trapped and exploited by the studio system.
She once said that she was “a slave under contract”, and that she had no say over her roles or her image.
She also hated the publicity and the attention that came with stardom, and longed for privacy and solitude.
She famously said “I want to be alone” in one of her movies, ‘Grand Hotel’ (1932), which became her catchphrase.
She was unhappy with her last film, ‘The Two-Faced Woman’, which was a comedy that did not suit her persona or style.
She later said that she “hated” the film, and that it was “a very bad picture”.
She decided to take a break from acting, but never came back.
A recluse in New York
Garbo became a recluse, avoiding photographers and fans who often pursued her for a glimpse or an autograph.
She walked the streets of New York dressed casually and wearing large sunglasses.
She travelled the world with friends such as Cécile Rothschild, Aristotle Onassis, and Deborah Kerr.
She collected paintings by Renoir and Jawlensky, and went to the theater until paparazzi drove her away.
A mystery in love
Garbo never married or had children, but had several romantic relationships with both men and women.
She was linked to actors John Gilbert and Erich Maria Remarque, director Rouben Mamoulian, conductor Leopold Stokowski, poet Mercedes de Acosta, and aristocrat Cecil Beaton.
She was also rumored to have an affair with Winston Churchill, but this was never confirmed.
Garbo remained an enigma until the end, refusing to write a memoir or give interviews.
She once said: “I never said I want to be alone. I only said I want to be left alone. There is all the difference.”